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How to deal with cultural differences in an international business environment Sales Managers Club 2008 Mallorca, May 19-21 By Vincent Merk.

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Presentation on theme: "How to deal with cultural differences in an international business environment Sales Managers Club 2008 Mallorca, May 19-21 By Vincent Merk."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to deal with cultural differences in an international business environment Sales Managers Club 2008 Mallorca, May By Vincent Merk

2 Game: Tower for the Derdians Build a (paper) tower Objectives of the game: Develop cultural awareness Train intercultural sensitivity Train knowledge transfer Develop group dynamics and team spirit Address some cultural dimensions

3 Developing Intercultural Competence: the ability to reconcile seemingly opposing values (by F. Trompenaars) - The 4 Rs: Recognise cultural differences Respect cultural differences Reconcile cultural differences Realise and Root

4 A definition… « Culture is a set of beliefs, values, norms or standards, shared by a group of people, which help the individuals to decide what is, what can be, how to feel, what to do and how to go about doing it. » Goodenough But… Culture is learned ! Culture is forgotten - we stop being conscious of it Our culture follows us everywhere – we cant just take it off and leave it outside !

5 Culture is the way we do things here (Deal & Kennedy) Dividing here into 4 levels: – The personal culture – The national culture – The professional culture – The corporate culture

6 Corporate Culture Person orientedTask oriented Hierarchical Egalitarian IncubatorGuided missile FamilyEiffel Tower ORG. CHAOS MBP LEARNING STRATEGY MBO PAY FOR PERFORMANCE NETWORK MBS PROMOTION/ POWER STRUCTURE MBJD EXPERTISE

7 The onion model

8 TROMPENAARS MODEL: Seven Dimensions of Culture RULES versus EXCEPTIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS –Universalism versus Particularism INDIVIDUAL versus GROUP ORIENTATION –Individualism versus Communitarianism EMOTIONS: CONTROLLING EMOTIONS versus EXPRESSIVE –Neutral versus Affective Relationships SEGMENTING versus INTEGRATING RELATIONSHIPS –Specific versus Diffuse Relationships STATUS based on: What you do versus Who you are –Achievement versus Ascription TIME –Monochronic versus Polychronic RELATIONSHIP with NATURE / ENVIRONMENT –Internal Control (dominate nature) versus External Control (part of nature)

9 You are riding in a car driven by a close friend. It is getting dark outside. He hits a pedestrian crossing the street. You know he was going at least 40 km/h in a residential area where the maximum allowed speed is 30 km/h. There are no witnesses. His lawyer says that if you testify under oath that he was only driving 30 km/h, it may save him from serious consequences. What right does your friend have to expect you to testify to the lower figure? What do you think you would do in view of the obligation of a sworn witness and obligation to your friend? UNIVERSALISM – PARTICULARISM: a case study

10 Universalism My friend has no/some right and I would not help %

11 RULES & SYSTEMSEXCEPTIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS Obligation to universal systems, contracts It depends - The particular situation Positive connotation ConsistencyFlexibility Negative connotation RigidityCorruption Issues/problems between the two: The meaning of a contract Objective systems from headquarters: focus on global products, systems, documenting vs local adaptation and exceptions Universalism versus Particularism

12

13 INDIVIDUAL ORIENTATIONGROUP ORIENTATION I comes first We comes first Positive connotation Personal initiative,Commitment, accountabilityteamwork Negative connotation Egoism, anarchyConformism Issues/problems between the two: Reward systems Decision making Individualism vs Communitarianism

14 Encounter Specific and Diffuse Public Private Danger Zone Private

15 Intercultural communication is: Verbal vs. non-verbal communication Words, images, song & dance High and low context Create and maintain trust

16 Non-verbal communication - greetings

17 High and low context High context cultures Low context cultures Information implicitly contained Information explicitly conveyed An example: A group of Dutch tourists asks a Malaysian if Lumpur is far from here. Seeing they look tired, he sympathises and replies: No. After 2 hours of walking, they still have not reached Lumpur. Reaction?

18 High and low context High context cultures Low context cultures Information implicitly contained Information explicitly conveyed Asian (Chinese, Japanese) Arabic/ Mid. East Latin-American Italian, Spanish Slavic British English French American English Scandinavian German Dutch Swiss-German

19 Communication Commandments: - Know (some of) the local language: "Impossible is nothing," a sign in Beijing's airport and one of those funny mistranslations of the common phrase, "Nothing is impossible." - Know about the local culture, history, traditions, happenings, events, current news, etc. - Know your partner: job, family, hobbies, background, etc. - And finally… Wonder, observe, listen, absorb, ask, wait, expose, try out, honour, etc.

20 ANALYTIC, SEGMENTINGHOLISTIC, INTEGRATED Segmented relationships Connected relationships Positive connotation Easy contactPersonal involvement Negative connotation SuperficialFormal BluntIndirect Issues/problems between the two: Losing face Explicit / implicit communication styles Different ways of problem solving Specific versus Diffuse

21 Achievement versus Ascription STATUS ? What You Do Who You Are

22 Ascribed Status Family Age Gender Education Position in hierarchy

23 Time perception MonochronicPolychronic

24 External Control: Nature as an organism Subjugation to nature Nature: Internal vs External Control Internal control: Dominance over nature

25 We control the environment In charge of our own destiny Technology push Harmony with environment Fate, luck Market pull Positive connotation In controlAdaptive Negative connotation Dominant, arrogantFate used as an excuse Issues/problems between the two: Perceive the other as weak or as arrogant Different ways of strategising, planning Internal control vs External control

26 A few recommendations: In international business, it always takes 2 to… Tango!

27 Beware of stereotyping…

28 Dont take too much for granted !

29 Dont go native, trying:When in Holland, do as the Dutch do…!

30 But just be yourself…

31 …and adapt to the local situation!

32 And watch your language! The language of international business is… …BAD English!!


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